Carrie Kish is an avid herpetologist, and animal trainer with a 15 year career in professional dog training, working primarily with dangerous dogs and dogs with fear and anxiety disorders. In 2012, while working for San Diego Zoo Global, Carrie founded Reptelligence with her co-worker and good friend Alex Konold, with the intention of exploring and showcasing the cognition abilities of reptiles and amphibians. Since that time, the Facebook page Reptelligence: Enrichment, Training and Education has gained an international following including pet owners, veternarians, zoo curators, professional animal keepers and trainers of all species. Carrie has worked closely with a variety of species from rhinos to roaches, parrots to porcupines, cheetahs to kestrels, and Tuataras to Tarantulas. In addition to directing the Reptelligence project, she is a full-time reptile trainer and off-site outreach coordinator for the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Springs, California. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Biola University and is working towards a Masters degree in Training from The Ethology Institute at University of Cambridge.
How do you train a snake and what are the benefits? Can training improve quality of life and decrease stress for reptiles in human care? How can we objectively measure what a stressed animal looks like? Reptelligence aims to answer these questions and more. Through re-designing habitats to give more options for choice and control over how and when they behave, offering both natural and non-natural feeding enrichment that allows ectotherms to go through their entire foraging action patterns, and using operant conditioning with non-food reinforcers for a variety of training, a marked difference in the body language of snakes when in hand as well as in habitat has been found.